By on February 27, 2014

2014 Mazda 6 GT SkyActiv

I’ve been driving the 2014 Mazda 6 GT w/ Mazda’s SkyActive Technology Package for about a week now. It’s a stunner, looking for all the world like the kind of sports sedan Aston Martin would build if it had any stones. On top of that, the car has some seriously trick fuel-savings features and, I must admit, handles brilliantly (even on my tester’s Blizzak winter tires). For each of the Mazda’s highs, however, there is a low, and I will do my very best to remain objective as I share these, leaving you, dear reader, to decide whether the highs outweigh the lows.

Get comfy, then. We’re about to get weird.

2014 Mazda 6 GT: Highs and Lows

The 2014 Mazda 6 GT is a study in compromises. As I alluded to above, the Mazda is the best car I’ve tested in some ways. In other ways, it’s the very worst. Let’s start, then, on a high note: the Mazda’s muscle-car styling.

The 2014 Mazda 6 is, simply, one of the best-looking cars ever built. That may sound like it’s one of those “opinion” things, but it’s not. It’s a fact, and anyone with even the slightest hint of soul will see it immediately. The 2014 Mazda 6 GT combines the same sort of long hood/short deck sort of rear-drive proportions that made the original Mustang a classic, and combines those with a sexy, flowing curviness that is both subtly European and very, very Japanese in the best possible sense of the word.

There is only 1 (one) thing wrong with the Mazda’s look: it’s fake.

Granted, being 1 step away from perfection seems pretty good on paper, but the fact that the car draws you in with a long-hooded Muscle-car vibe then sticks you with the same basic mechanical front drive layout as a minivan is, at best, disappointing.

Let’s move on to the next “good” thing, then, shall we?

My 2014 Mazda 6 tester was equipped with the company’s highly lauded SkyActiv Technology Package. That includes Mazda’s i-ELOOP energy recovery system, active grille shutters, and radar-assisted cruise control, along with a few other goodies. The system is supposed to give back 28 city and 40 highway MPG and do all kinds of cool things like maintain a distance from the car in front of you, matching speed, accelerating back to your set speed once the “blocking” car moves, etc. It works amazingly well, and is almost totally invisible. It works so well, in fact, that I would almost suggest Mazda’s Technology Package be held out as the “gold standard” by which automotive electronics are measured by.

Almost, that is, because as well as the Mazda 6′s Technology Package worked, I didn’t get anywhere near 40 MPG. On several drives, even re-tracing the same route that gave back 51 MPG in the Toyota Corolla I tested earlier this month, I never saw more than 29.5 MPG, according to the car’s computer.

Mazda 6 MPG

Worse than the fuel economy letdown, however, was the Mazda’s infotainment system. It is, without question, the worst part of this, or any other car I have ever driven. Keep in mind, that list includes a Renault 5 (LeCar) that required me to, more than once, spray the fusebox with a fire extinguisher while driving.

What, exactly, made the infotainment system in the 2014 Mazda 6 so infuriating? It’s hard to explain, I think, but I’ll give it a try. Take a look at the photos of the system in in play, below, then read on as I explain the issues I had.

I was listening to the radio on a drive from my home in Oak Park to see a man about a guitar out in Plano, and wanted to change the station. Not wanting to take my hands off the wheel or my eyes off the road, I pressed the button on the left of the steering wheel that looks like it would have a “seek” function. Rather than going to the next station, it went to the next pre-set station.

“OK,” I thought. “That’s not what I expected, but it’s not the end of the world.

Next, I tried the BMW iDrive-syle knobule in the center console- and that’s when things really went sideways between me and the Mazda. Literally not a single input produced a sensible response. Turning the knob, pushing it left or right, pressing down on it, all seemed to have different functions depending on what screen I was in. In Nav mode, for example, I turned the knob thinking that it would take me back to audio or, at least, allow me to select a Navigation menu.

No dice.

Instead, turning the knob on the center console in the Mazda’s Nav screen zoomed in and out. Quickly. Distressingly quickly, in fact, going from “this is what is in your pores” close to “see what Lake Michigan looks like from deep space” far in seconds.

I’m sure I would, eventually, figure out the radio’s controls- but after nearly two decades of driving all manner of different cars, I’d like to think I’m pretty good at figuring out how an infotainment system works. In the 2014 Mazda 6, however, I was no closer to intuiting any of its supposed “features”, even after a week of trying. On the bright side, however, the Mazda’s sound system delivered fantastic sound quality- a fact I discovered after giving up entirely on the radio and playing songs through my phone’s BT connection. It was crisp, clear, and had decent bass.

So, where does that leave the Mazda 6?

 

2014 Mazda 6 GT: the Verdict

I couldn’t decide how I felt about the thing. In fact, the 2014 Mazda 6 GT seemed a little like a woman I used to date years ago- which is to say “beautiful, but incredibly frustrating”. Like the car, I used to love looking at her. She was an excellent playmate, too, but I couldn’t really figure her out and never managed to convince her to do anything productive with herself. In my twenties, that seemed OK- in my thirties?

Utterly stymied by the Mazda and unable to decide what I thought of it, I turned to the wife. While highly educated and extremely intelligent, the wife has almost no knowledge of car culture. She was, then, totally unaware of the fact that, as an automotive journalist, I am “supposed to” love the 2014 Mazda 6 GT. I asked her about the car, and she had generally positive things to say. Good-looking, roomy, yadda-yadda. It was when I asked her what she thought a car like the 2014 Mazda 6 GT might cost that she dropped a bomb on me: “I think more than the Corolla,” she said, referring to my last tester. “So, I dunno, $18,000 or $18,500.”

Hoo-boy.

My wife is pretty good at guessing prices. She was within 10% of the sticker of both the Toyota Avalon and Lexus CT200h we tested, and nailed the Chevy Sonic with such precision that I’m convinced she peeked at the sticker while I wasn’t looking. Still, the price she put on the 2014 Mazda 6 was nearly $15K shy of the car’s $32,845 sticker.

So, where does that leave the 2014 Mazda 6 GT? I think it leaves it exactly where I have it, which is to say in a weird sort of “Why is this a thing?” limbo that it will never, ever escape- at least, not without some kind of massive infotainment overhaul, all-wheel drive, or a 35% price cut. There is, however, an alternative. A product that gives you all of the benefits of the 2014 Mazda 6 GT’s sexy curves, brilliant handling, and 40-ish (claimed) MPG fuel economy while getting fairly close to the car’s $18,000 “feels like” price.

That alternative? The 37 MPG 2014 Mazda 6 Sport with manual transmission, which stickers at just $20,990.

If you stick to your guns, drive a hard bargain, and show up at your nearest Mazda dealer an hour before closing time on the last day of the month, you’ll get to drive home the best looking $18,000 car cash money can buy.

 

Originally published on Gas 2.

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267 Comments on “A Bi-polar Review of the 2014 Mazda 6 GT...”


  • avatar
    Kinosh

    I’m curious if there was any specific “cheap” bit that made your wife guess the car so low. Even getting rid of the $2500 tech package (and not losing many MPGs in the process), you’re still at 30k. What makes this compelling at 30k over an Accord or Camry?

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      A car that starts at $20,000 but can be optioned up to almost $40,000 manufacturers have to make sure they add expense where it counts enough to give consumers the impression of higher quality and price.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      The problem is not that the Mazda6 interior is build of inherently cheap materials. The problem is 1) the least expensive trim level looks just as good and 2) the style of the interior reminds one of a less expensive smaller car. Think youth oriented Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf, not mature Lexus style. I also didn’t like the fast steering which clashed with it’s family sedan mission. The best deal is to buy a stripped down Mazda6 Sport for a little over $20k and aftermarket leather seat covers for around $1k. The infotainment system is tough because the problem is user interface, not sound quality.

    • 0 avatar
      fredtal

      And maybe this is the problem with Mazda sales, people just don’t value it like they do Camry and Accord. Those who appreciate it’s sporty character are not buying it.

      • 0 avatar
        Dweller on the Threshold

        Or maybe the “sporty character” is non-existent, and people who care about that are quite capable of noticing its absence.

        I took three extended test drives. Its “miserly character”? Yes, thanks to stunningly aggressive auto-downshifts and unerring laggardly throttle response. Its “FWD character”? Yes. Its “numb steering”? Yes. Its “noisy character”? Yes.

        Its “sporty character”? Totally MIA.

        This is the problem. The thing is not inspiring as any kind of quasi sporting proposition. And is not a hyper-rational choice as a value proposition.

        So who to sell to?

        • 0 avatar
          mike978

          Most reviews (both professional and personal on Edmunds) laud its driving dyanmics.
          Also I was surprised by the stated fuel economy since on fuelly and in other real world testing the 6 comes at the top of the pack.

          • 0 avatar
            Dweller on the Threshold

            Yeah, I know. That’s why I tried it three different times. The driving dynamics were a total disappointment.

          • 0 avatar
            carrya1911

            I drove one with a manual before buying my Accord…I wasn’t impressed with the driving dynamics. I wanted to be, but wasn’t.

          • 0 avatar
            ctg

            I had a similar experience to Dweller with the 2012 Mazda 3 (the first SkyActiv model) a couple years ago. I went in with very high expectations. I’d read a Car and Driver review where I think they’d compared it to a front-wheel drive BMW 3-series. I drove both manual and automatic versions and I was really underwhelmed. It drove better than a (pre-redesign) Corolla, I guess. I really didn’t notice much difference between the Mazda and a Hyundai Elantra. The one compact that did stick out as feeling premium was a Ford Focus I rented for a week. Ultimately I decided that all the compact sedans were too boring and bought something more fun :)

            Edit: the one thing that did stick out was the that manual transmission in the Mazda 3 was excellent. But the handling just didn’t impress me.

          • 0 avatar

            The problem with the newer mazdas is the electrical steering. The cars themselves “handle” more than well enough to surpass most driver limits.

            It’s really unfortunately they went from hella-sharp even in their bargain basement econ model to relying on caster angle to induce some feel.

          • 0 avatar
            niky

            I’d wonder why it was a total disappointment? Granted, the stable rear end is less likely to hang out when trailbraking than the old 6, but in the midsize class, everything else is noticeably less agile, less keen to turn-in and much, much worse in the steering department. Even the new Accord, which has just graduated to electric steering.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          I agree completely. Mazda prides themselves on zoom-zoom and fun to drive, but on most of their volume models they don’t do enough to differentiate themselves there. Sure, they can be somewhat fun for what they are, but measurably better than their Honda counterparts? With Mazda you have to give up more in NVH, parts cost, and durability than you gain in driving fun compared to Honda.

          If Mazda wants to really own the zoom-zoom niche, they need to take a risk and make that budget BMW (complete with RWD) that they want people to think they make now. Unfortunately, it’s probably too big of a risk to take, and it looks like Mazda is content to survive on the scraps left by the Accord, Camry, Fusion, and Altima.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        @DotT, I love my Mazda 5 GT. I love Mazdas. They’re everything Toyota’s are (reliable) and aren’t (boring appliances). They have SOUL, which I just can’t find in a car from Korea or Germany. The interior is generally cheap and cheerful. The driver interface is always a bit odd, but comforting. Love driving them, especially with a lovely, sweet shifting 6 speed.

        And therein lies the rub. To get the manual, you gotta go bargain basement in terms of amenities. The really cool techno stuff only comes on a Grand-Tourer. On the ‘Sport’: Leather? Nope. Heated seats? Nope. Fog-lamps? Nope. Rain-sensitive wipers? Nope. Automatic headlamps? Nope. Sunroof? May be found on an EXTREMELY rare 6 spd Touring. Colors other than Black, White, Red and Beige? Nope. Add to it the packages that only come with the GT and possible with the Touring, if you pay through the nose for them. It turns me off so severely that I can’t have my cake and eat it too, that I turn away from Mazda and take a hard look at a Buick Regal 6 spd. ME?? In a BUICK?? Madness!

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Zoom has left the room?

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, she pointed out a few issues. The passenger seat was only adjustable fore/aft, and wasn’t fully powered. The touchscreen was very small, much smaller than the less expensive Chevy and Toyota mentioned. She also picked on the headliner and the look and feel of the dash plastics.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Mazda is doing a phenomenal job with its new product, as all recent Mazdas are good-looking and fun-to-drive as Mazdas usually are. I’m also pleased they’re putting more tech bucks into clever fuel efficiency (although clearly YMMV) rather than trick infotainment systems. Let’s not forget: Mazda is surviving and thriving On Their Own, and still doing things their way. For such a resource-strapped underdog to turn out one of the best-looking and best-driving sedans in its segment and price range, I’m willing to forgive the cons.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Mazda being an “underdog” does nothing for me. I don’t think it drives an better than an Accord or Fusion in a daily commute, and the infotainment system is terrible (worse than MFT). My wife crossed the 6 off her list because the interior and nav/radio. People like her won’t forgive those cons when the competition is so good.

      • 0 avatar
        philadlj

        The 6 has exceeded 6,000 monthly sales just ONCE out of the last four years; Honda and Toyota EACH sell around 6,000 Accords and Camrys per WEEK.

        Mazda is a niche product, and it certainly isn’t catering to everyone. They’re basically announcing to potential customers: “If you really care that much about a really slick nav/radio system, kindly look elsewhere.”

        But as long as a few thousand customers per month are willing to give the 6 a chance in spite of its shortcomings, they can survive, especially with the CX-5 and 3 doing so well.

        I’m not under any illusions that owning the 6 is owning a uncompromising product. But even if Mazda broke the bank designing a world-class infotainment system, sales would rise only modestly.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Mazda would have a better chance of getting someone like me to buy a Mazda6. I perfer manual transmissions, and I like cars that prioritize the fun of driving. For the price, there are cars that do driving fun better, depending on the compromises you want to make.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          Expect the much better infotainment system from the new 3 on the 2015 Mazda6.

          Personally, I’d just grab the non-touch screen, non-nav, stereo from the manual sport trim and stick it in.

        • 0 avatar

          If it’s gonna be a niche product, though, shouldn’t it be NICHE? Like, why not build a RWD sedan on a Miata platform? Would that really cost them sales?

          I don’t buy that. I think Mazda’s Zoom-Zoom marketing is positioning them as a niche builder, but what they really, truly, in the darkest, secretest corners of their little hearts want is to be Toyota.

      • 0 avatar

        Agreed. It’s a neat story, but real life ain’t the Fountainhead Fantasy Camp for Celebrating Plucky Individualists. If Mazda wants to continue to go it alone, they should try to play a different game than Toyota and Honda. Maybe more emphasis on styling and RWD, and just stop trying to develop an OS altogether.

  • avatar
    84Cressida

    I don’t find it good looking. And I do have a soul. Don’t speak for me again and try to foist your opinion as fact.

  • avatar
    Aquineas

    I confess; I would have expected the controls you to mention to behave exactly as described. The button on the steering wheel *should* take you through your presets or next/previous songs on your playlist (as opposed to SCANning the airwaves jumping through dozens of stations you might have already eliminated from your preferences). This behaves just like it does on my 2013 Ford Fusion and my 2012 Genesis. And the nav on the Genesis works exactly the same way; when in Nav mode, the knob controller zooms the map in and out, which I personally find a lot more user friendly to me than finding a touchscreen button?

    • 0 avatar
      caltemus

      There is also a clearly marked ‘Tune’ button on the right side of the screen. It’s not designed for the one-week user.

    • 0 avatar
      TTACFanatic

      Mazda’s infotainment systems are admittedly a mess (getting only a little better with each iteration CX-5 -> Mazda 6 -> Mazda 3) but this review is unabashedly flawed and devoting a whole paragraph to infotainment and concluding

      “I’m sure I would, eventually, figure out the radio’s controls- but after nearly two decades of driving all manner of different cars, I’d like to think I’m pretty good at figuring out how an infotainment system works.”

      Which equates in tone to “I’m an expert, and this is wrong” has to be the dumbest thing I read on this site in a while.

      Not being a professional car reviewer I checked the manuals for the Altima, Fusion, Camry, and just for fun the Corolla. And unsurprisingly, they all operate in the same manner as the Mazda 6.

      Also you got averaged 29.5 MPG in the winter.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        The infotainment system does need upgrading. The new 3′s system is getting good comments on Edmunds long term test vehicle. So I fully expect that to filter down to the CX5 and 6 thereby eliminating the only real complaint with the car.

      • 0 avatar
        redrum

        Yeah, if someone drops $30k on this car, I’m betting they will actually RTFM and get it figured out. Now, if the reviewer had actually cracked open the user manual and then found the controls and screen flows to awkward or busy, THAT would have been worth devoting a paragraph to.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        The Corolla he compared it to was also driven in the winter, though there is no mention of tire type. I find the 51 mpg claim for the Corolla about as credible as Norm’s efficiency claims. Maybe it was the instant MPG reading rather than the average (while coasting downhill). I skimmed the Corolla review, and the Jo’s average for the week was 38 mpg. More reasonable and still better than the Mazda, though it lacks the shock value of claiming 51 mpg.

        • 0 avatar
          TTACFanatic

          I read the linked “review” of the Corolla and basically found it to be clickbait FUD.

          He gives little to no detail on how he got 51 MPG (conditions, traffic, how hard he was on the throttle) and makes a point that he used no “hyper-miling techniques”.

          Using his own data (pic of avg MPG over various trips) the 51 MPG rating is a SIGNIFICANT statistical outlier and the same picture shows that he only cracked 30 MPG once out of the first four trips and apparently got 10 MPG on one of them.

          There is definitely something going on. Either the reviewer is goosing things or the trip computer is broken.

          Highly questionable figures aside, they have little bearing on this article. The Corolla and Mazda 6 are in different class with considerable weight and horsepower differences.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            A single 20 mile cycle with few details isn’t enough to be considered significant for me either.

            Most other reviewers put a lot more mileage than that on before talking about observed mileage. The 38mpg figure seems a lot more realistic and makes me wonder why the 51mpg 20 mile cycle was even mentioned.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            Maybe the Corolla had a Trifecta tune :)

        • 0 avatar

          Agree 100%, but the Corolla allows you to track MPG by trip. The 51 MPG trip was about 20 miles of I-290 outside of Chicago. No stops, but slow going between 40 and 50 MPH.

    • 0 avatar
      arun

      I concur. In fact, in my VW CC, the controls on the steering wheel scans the airwaves instead of going through my presets, and I HATE it! I have scanned and I have preset my favorites, so why the hell are the controllers scanning again…I have tried to make use of it whenever I get bored of what is on air but I definitely prefer cycling through presets over scanning random stations.

      Likewise on the zoom control, that is what it does when in Nav mode. In fact, when I first discovered it, I was pleased as punch cos I didn’t know I could zoom in to the maps until then.

      Anytime I read complaints about infotainment ‘ergonomics’, I almost get a sense of entitlement from the reviewer. As long as it get the job done, I think everyone should be fine with it. It is one thing to complain about random shutdowns and freezes – which are legitimate complaints, and quite another to be talking about perceived faults when the fact is that the manufacturer just designed it differently. Go spend some time reading the manual figuring it out – it really isn’t rocket science you know!

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    So a manual trans base model might just be a better deal all the way around. No complex frustrating system, standard Bluetooth.

    To the author, did you put anybody in the back seat or try to “sit behind yourself”? How was the level of interior noise? I applaud Mazda for “adding lightness” but I fear that it might make their cars noisy inside if not properly applied.

    • 0 avatar
      wristtwist

      My buddy has one of these, and we can both sit behind ourselves (I’m 6’3″, he’s 6″2). The only other car that we can do this with in this class is the Passat. Also, he has a base model, and in mixed driving, he is getting 33mpg (without i-eloop). I think it looks fantastic, I just wish Mazda would give us the leather with a manual. I don’t want satnav (my phone will be better), but the standard bluetooth is exactly what is needed. I am seriously considering this as my next car, and I’ve push several of my friends to at least take a look at it.

      Disclaimer: I own a 2gen Mazdaspeed3, my first non-honda product ever. I’m averaging 26.3mpg mixed, with it being mostly 40-50mph roads commuting into town. (when I get on it, I can see as low as 6.9mpg on the instant calculator) I love this car, but it’s not perfect. But I’m still looking back at her when I park, and I’ve had more smiles in this car than any other.

    • 0 avatar

      Road noise was fine, even on Blizzaks. Wife is about 5′ 10″ in heels, fit fine. 4 adults was not an issue.

      As I said in the article, at under $20K, it’s the best car you can buy. At $32K … well … another thing, that’s not “shock value”, that’s the car Mazda sent me to review.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        It is not unusual for a manufacturer to send the top spec car. $32K is also not excessive for a top spec (even with an I-4). Very few people will spend that amount. Just as very few will buy a $34K Accord Touring.

        At least you have now added in the comments so more useful information such as the ease of fitting 4 adults and the lack of road noise (although other reviews says it has more than some other mid-size cars). Shame it wasn`t in the review itself.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    Great picture, beautiful car.

  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    I’m of two minds with Mazdas in general myself. Turns out this Skyactiv witchcraft is the real deal after all, but replacement parts have always been ridiculously priced compared to other nameplates, giving me the impression Mazda likes to gouge their own converts. Add to that seeing barely four years old models developing rust (not to mention those 04-05 Mazda 3s which rotted near the rear wheelwheels and trunk after just two winters) and I just don’t consider any Mazda as a true long term ownership prospect.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      My top reasons for switching out my old 1998 Mazda for a 1996 Toyota 4Runner as a camping/hauling weekend rig was that the Mazda was developing some serious rust, and certain parts were unbearably expensive and hard to get a hold of. My 4runner parts are laughably cheap by comparison and every Autozone has them in stock, or else rockAuto has like 10 different aftermarket options for me to choose from.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        Our low mile(just turned 37k) but Rust Belt dwelling 08 Mazda 5 doesn’t have any surface rust or bubbles. But when I crawl underneath or change tires, I’m always aware that there’s probably more rust underneath than there should be. I don’t think Mazda will ever truly grip the corrosion issue.

        I try to take it to the car wash once a month during winter and it gets Griots paint sealant twice a year. It’s also garage kept, but that can be a double edged sword from some sources.

        • 0 avatar
          PRNDLOL

          Yes, any garage above the freezing point allows snow and ice on and under the car to melt and reactivate the dried salt deposits yet again. I park on a P3 level where I live and it you could wear a t-shirt on that level even when it’s -20c out.

          I’d much prefer to keep my car outside all winter long so it isn’t subject to a repeated insidious wet salt bath.

          • 0 avatar
            Zoom

            A garage allows for more frequent washing, since the car will see more above freezing temperatures there. That’s why my 2004 Mazda3 has only a little surface rust, on the rocker panel where it kicks up in front of the rear wheel.

            A garage also limits exposure to sun, birds, etc. I can’t imagine a case where a regularly driven, garaged car would wear more than a car exposed to the elements 24 hours a day.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          I was just under my 2012 Civic this past weekend to change the oil, the first bit of surface rust is appearing on the subframe. Nothing to be afraid of per say, but still caused me to shudder. Unlike my fanatically undercoated 4runner, the Civic is my expendable commuter that I don’t plan on passing down to my future children. It will be replaced within 5 years for something larger once I settle in and have a house. This is the one area where the Germans/Swedes really do have it going on: rust protection. Sadly the rest of the car will not be worth fixing long before the body rots.

          • 0 avatar
            Atum

            Eighth generation Civics have really bad paint fade. They’re the only cars of the third millennium that I’ve seen with such horrendous paint fade. But you have a ninth gen, so you may be good.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Here in SW Ohio, even 4-5 year old Mazdas have rust on them, at the rear fender usually. It’s pretty depressing.

        • 0 avatar
          gearhead77

          I commute between Pittsburgh and Cleveland. I’m aware…

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Is the Pittsburgh-Cleveland commute like the Bataan Death March or Trail of Tears for older Mazdas? I’ll pay more attention next time I am in beautiful Akron.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Those folks should’ve got Krown… or Mazda should maybe look into using steel instead of a steel substitute.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          The absolute worst I saw was an early build 02-ish looking car near Cleveland this past July. It looked like it had literally spent time at the bottom of the ocean. Not only were the rear rockers in full bloom, but the trunklid, and roof pillars(!) were in an advanced state of corrosion. Car was really filthy which points to it not being taken care of or washed regularly, but wow. I really hope that was a salvage car that just had crappy body work and cheap paint job that was causing all of that.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I’ve heard about these rust issues, but haven’t seen many cars with problems since the Protege went away. My ’09 3 hatch doesn’t have any rust issues yet.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Near my house where I run, there’s a similar 09 3 hatch in black, and it looks like it’s got 3 pepperonis stuck to the rear fender, right above the bumper seam.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          I don’t drive my cars often, so I avoid most of the salty roads. The worst it gets for me is crossing the Pennsylvania Turnpike from Maryland to Ohio, when the whole car turns white up except the roof. Of course, I hose all that off as soon as I’m done with the trip.

  • avatar
    Slocum

    “The 37 MPG 2014 Mazda 6 Sport with manual transmission, which stickers at just $20,990.”

    And you’ll avoid the squirrely infotainment system while you’re at it. Really a BT connection to a good-sounding stereo is *all* I want. For music, I’m probably going to be listening to Pandora, Spotify, or MP3 on my phone. I want nav app on my phone (like Google Maps) that includes live traffic, and I want the volume on the music turned down whenever I get a call or need to hear the next traffic direction.

    We seriously considered a Mazda 6 last year, BTW, and if we end up getting another car, that’ll probably be the one (and with the manual — which is really slick), but we ended up replacing our other vehicle first.

  • avatar
    iMatt

    Although glad to see the level of snark just about disappear, I’m getting rather tired of car reviews becoming more like Infotainment reviews lately at TTAC. I’m surprised that there really hasn’t been much objection from the B and B.

    Taking this piece as an example, there’s no mention of why the 6 excels at handling. Only that…it does. Same goes for the powertrain. There’s nothing of interest to say about it at all? Tell us about the hybrid setup!

    Even Alex’s reviews have a hefty dose of Infotainment nonsense, stuff I don’t really care about. All it does is encourage me to skim over and risk missing something actually interesting along the way.

    I can’t be the only one….can I?

    Also, kudos to Mazda, they have at least made a polarizing car, now if only I was confident it won’t turn into a rolling pole of rust in 7-8 years.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Actually, whatever’s on board for entertainment is fairly important. Also noise levels, etc. It’s not necessarily a problem if the system is difficult to learn, though, as I’d be using it for several years and would have time and incentive to actually learn it. Sound quality, input choices and FM reception are more important.

      • 0 avatar
        iMatt

        Perhaps it’s merely because I’m always way behind the curve when it comes to in-car tech in my current rides that proves me naive, but I’m simply not interested.

        To me, a desirable car would be the one where simply driving it is the entertainment! I do enjoy my bluetooth setup though….:)

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I concur. You can turn off frustrating infotainment. You can’t turn off rust, bad seats, MPG issues, cheap plastics, etc.

          • 0 avatar
            mike978

            The infotainment is the only real issue.
            Looking at reviews and having seat time myself – the fuel economy is good, space is good, reliability is deemed higher than Honda by CR and of course it drives and looks good.
            The interior plastics are at least class competitive if anyone hasn`t already made their mind up to hate it.

        • 0 avatar
          jim brewer

          Me too. At least the reviewer avoided an extended discussion of whether the interior plastic was “cheap” or “luxurious” plastic.

          What was the mpg again? I mean the real mpg not the thing on the dashboard. I realize from TTAC disclaimers that the manufacturer provides a full tank of gas. Is TTAC so cheap that you won’t toss a few gallons in and do long division to get a true number?

          Did it have good handling? Good visisbility? Back seat comfort? Was it noisy? How did it accelerate? Don’t let this stuff get in the way of a discusssion of an old girlfriend.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Since it is increasingly difficult to replace the infotainment systems in modern cars, the OEM better get it right the first time. It sounds like a trivial part of a car until you have had to live with a bad one. My current car and my previous car both had aftermarket touch screens installed. I hated them so much I pulled them in favor of the original unit. In my previous car, this meant using a tape adapter. The aftermarket unit worked so poorly, and was so ugly in the dash, that I was perfectly happy with that.

        I don’t read the infotainment portion of reviews too closely, but if there are red flags I want to know about them.

    • 0 avatar
      Manic

      Steering feel? brakes? rock hard suspension? acceleration? We don’t know.
      Blizzaks with their high rolling resistance + low outside temp. would mean less mpg than with summer tires. And steering wheel buttons work like they should, owner sets presets and then jumps between them.

      • 0 avatar
        NeilyG

        Winter tires and cold temps cut almost 4 mpg from the old 1.8 passat.

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        Hey now, he said it handled brilliantly but needs rear wheel drive. Or all wheel drive or something or other. Actually I am not sure what he was saying other than it was a real fake car that isn’t worth the money you aren’t paying for it but good overall other than it’s bad.

    • 0 avatar
      Speedygreg7

      I have zero interest in infotainment whatsoever. Does it have a CD player? Does it have AUX input? That is all I need to know. I don’t want Bluetooth, touch screen, phone integration or anything else. I want knobs and buttons to control the radio and prefer not to have redundant radio controls on the wheel, though its not a problem.

      I have driven the Mazda6 and loved it compared to all other modern competitors. If it has a lousy infotainment system I do not care. I’m buying a car, not a tablet computer.

      Oh, and I like an actual ignition key and a hand brake lever.

      I guess I am one of very few like me left and am opposite the majority of the buying public.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Let’s not bring sense into this. Oooo pretty I can touch it and it controls everything. Wait, its how much to replace? Oh well I’ll just go and buy a new one, I have to have my touchscreen it completes me!

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Are these infotainment systems completely failing though? I looked at plenty of Ford Freestyles/Taurus Xs that are getting on 7-9 years old now, and the Nav systems worked.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            The screen in my 01 GS, which controlled everything except radio volume and tune, still worked perfectly.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Computers and computer parts at large have a limited shelf life vs say an ICE. What this period is can certainly vary and I suspect it would depend on the quality of components installed. What’s going to happen when your HVAC system is routed through the touchsceen and the hard drive goes kaput or the O/S platform gets a virus or some sort of malware?

            Personally, I want a limited computer presence in my automobile but the exact opposite is happening by design.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            28-

            Your solution is 5-8 year old Expedition or Tahoe. A diesel powered Excursion would be better, but good luck finding one.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @bball

            Diesel Excursions, if they come up for sale, come at a premium. I’m quite happy with my Pontiac, it has a normal trip computer and a CD player with steering wheel buttons. This is about as high tech as a car should be, IMO. Next move might be a Yukon, trouble with those is once they take their initial bite mileage becomes irrelevant to pricing. You’ll pay about the same for one with 100K as one with 40K (assuming same MY), last I checked MY10s and 11s were still trading 26s up to 90K miles. The thing I like about the Pontiac is it was out the door under 13, 3.5 years ago and its been paid off since late 2012. I don’t mind sinking $700 into it for a new tune up and Gabriel shocks (as i just did) to keep it feeling like new. However if I buy a truck used for almost $30K and its already at 80K otc I’m going to be pissed sinking money into a vehicle I’m still making $500/mo payments on. The trick of course is to find one with lower miles…

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Too bad they never made a Pontiac or Oldsmobile version of the Yukon/Tahoe. Then you would get extra depreciation.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Do you know how often I think about those imaginary Pontiac and Olds vehicles?!

            I think the Olds styling of 2000 or so would have worked on the Tahoe well. And it would have had such a sweet interior. I picture the Pontiac one as more Aztek-y and cladding. The Oldsmobile Endeavor would’ve been simple, less chunky looking than the Yukon. Dark green. Gold package.

            However, there was an Olds Tahoe -trim- at one point.

            http://www.mclellansautomotive.com/photos/H2429.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Bball, Corey

            I don’t think they would have given Pontiac a GMT900 (or Buick for that matter) because of the setup of the B-P-G dealer network. If they had I would imagine it would follow the styling trends at the end of the brand, similar to Torrent.

            I do think Olds would have gotten one though to complement Bravada, it would have looked sweet. If Olds had even lived as long as Pontiac I suspect they would have converted Bravada into a Lambda and given it a rocketship for a nose and sleek lines vs the stodgier Traverse/Acadia and rounder Enclave. Olds Endeavor (clever name BTW) would look more similar to its GMT900 cousins and probably be akin to a “baby Escalade” in terms of options and appearance.

            @Corey

            That trim is hilarious. Go 70s.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        I don’t know, I’m a Bluetooth convert ever since we bought my wife’s 3 in 2010. I was firmly in your camp beforehand.

        The ability to just get in the car and have your music start streaming from your phone without it leaving your pocket, plus speaking your navigation directions to you is a godsend. The car’s buttons control volume and can skip tracks forward/backward. I only use the FM radio and Bluetooth streaming (whether that be my own music, or some sort of streaming app). There is no other fancy ‘integration’ required. Plus I can talk on speakerphone, which keeps me from getting ticketed in my state.

        I liked it enough in the one car it came standard that I bought cheap ~$100 head units with the capability for my other 2 older cars. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

        • 0 avatar
          carrya1911

          The future is infotainment…and to a lot of people how well the infotainment works is a big deal. As in they will buy a different car sized deal.

          After having lived with really good infotainment and lived without it, I greatly prefer having it and having it work sensibly because you’re less likely to be distracted from the road by trying to get the flippin’ thing to do what you want.

        • 0 avatar
          Slocum

          BT is just a handier, wireless AUX — what you can do with them is pretty much the same (including hands-free phone calls)

          • 0 avatar
            Japanese Buick

            Re: “Bluetooth is just a handier AUX”

            No it isn’t. With Bluetooth you can use the car’s controls to control the music. With AUX you have to pick up the phone and possibly unlock the screen to pause, skip or rewind songs, etc. The difference in usability is significant.

            Fluffier stuff: with BT your song info will appear on the HU’s screen. If you get a call, caller ID will appear.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Even Alex’s reviews? More like especially Alex’s reviews – infotainment is basically his specialty. Fortunately, Alex makes it easy to skip that part of the review if you are not interested.

      I think this review is somewhat incomplete because the car has been around for a while and it isn’t necessary to discuss every aspect of it again. That said, I wish everything was covered again. I always find additional opinions interesting, and maybe even useful. Of course, what typically happens after I’ve read enough reviews on the same car is I wonder if they actually drove the same car, and then throw out all the reviews.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I checked one of these out almost two years ago when we still had our 2007 MX5. I liked the looks, but other than an MX5, I didn’t feel comfortable about possibly having a Mazda as a daily driver. The body felt very fragile, so perhaps there may be some truth to Mazda’s metal being thinner? Same verdict at last week’s auto show when I checked one out again.

    Still, it’s a beautiful car just the same, and still happy I bought my current ride.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I checked one of these out almost two years ago…

      I love you man, but no you did not do that. :) That would have been the old Ford Fusion based Mazda 6. I wish Mazda had kept offering all the body styles of the “old” 6 which you could get in wagon and hatchback for a couple of years.

      But this is a nice sedan and the price for the base manual trans version is right in my ballpark. Anything higher than about $20,000 is out of my league. I’m a used car buyer at heart but I new cars always make me do a double take when I see it.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        You want that wagon in brown with a stick and a diesel, right?

      • 0 avatar
        TTACFanatic

        The first gen. Fusion was based on the Mazda 6 (not the other way around), specifically the first generation that had the 5 door, wagon, and Speed 6 variants.

        The one Zackman checked out was the 2nd generation Mazda 6 … which generally nobody liked.

        Strangely all of Ford’s recent success have been built off of platforms taken from captive brands that Ford has completely divested itself from.

        Fusion/Milan/MKZ (1st. gen) -> Mazda 6
        Edge -> Mazda 6
        Escape/Mariner -> Joint development but largely based on Mazda 626.
        Taurus/MKS -> Volvo
        Flex/Explorer -> Volvo

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    As the US spec version of the Mazda 6 is a bit differernt when it comes to engines I’m not really sure where it belongs in the market over there. Here it is probably an alternative to the Euro Accord (TSX), both in size and emphasis on looks and handling over practicality, while still being slightly cheaper and more practical , (more like a Mondeo or Passat), than the Honda(Acura). As we don’t get the US Camry and Accord here, I can only guess from pictures and numbers that it is a whole size smaller especially on the inside?
    A friend of mine has a 2008 wagon, and it finally turned him from being a ‘jap cars are tinny boxes, only german cars are real’-kinda person. He had me to try it to confirm his suspucions that the japanese can finally make a nice handling well built car and I agree.
    I agree completely when it comes to the design too, they look awesome both in sedan and wagon form.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      The US Accord and Camry feel considerably larger because they don’t attempt to have a coupe roofline and high beltline that are currently in style. The Mazda6 also pushes the base of the windshield back to get proportions more like a RWD car, but this results in less open space in front of the driver. The end result is the Mazda6 feels smaller on the inside than one would guess from its dimensions.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        So it is more a competitor to the TSX than the CamCords then, which makes the price more believeable.

        • 0 avatar
          duffman13

          Have you looked at the prices of the CamCords?

          They are priced competitively for similar options as far as sticker goes. An Accord EX-L (the one most people who want a nice one buy) stickers for $28,270, and $30,045 with nav, which is competitive with the GT 6 which comes with nav standard at $29,695.

          Breaking it down with the TrueDelta tool puts the 6 at $230 cheaper with feature parity. Granted for the price of i-ELoop compared to the true hybrid that the Accord is not even comparable, and definitely not worth the extra $2k.

          That’s just new though… Given Honda’s proclivity for holding their value, a Grand Touring Mazda 6 should be much better deal coming off of a 2 year lease than an ccord EX-L.

          • 0 avatar
            Zykotec

            Yeah I was thinking about the apparrent size difference, but it’s hard to judge since like I mentioned we don’t have the CamCords over here. The lenght is the same as an Accord but it looks more like a TSX competitor (and the EU version is quite possibly a better car than the TSX, except for the so far unknown reliability), and as far as I can understand it’s quite a bargain if viewed in that way ?

        • 0 avatar
          wristtwist

          No, the TSX/euro accord is much smaller. I can’t fit in the back seat, where as I can sit behind myself in the `6

      • 0 avatar
        niky

        The long nose of the Mazda6 is only partly for reasons of sexiness. It’s there to accomodate the longer exhaust manifolds mandated by the SkyActiv platform.

        The suggestions of rear-wheel drive are merely a fortuituous side-effect.

      • 0 avatar

        It also makes the car seem long and weird when you try to park it. Very boat-y.

  • avatar
    The Heisenberg Cartel

    The design is a bit oddly proportioned, weirdly tall (sitting in my E46 sedan my nose is level with its door handles every time I pass one) and overwrought. The idea is great but the execution is flawed. The original Mazda6 was the best looking of them all, by far. The Mazda3 is far better executed.

    Also, can you give a little bit more detail about the driving feel and experience? All I know now is that you hated the infotainment and that the MPG was lame.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    So it handles “well” (a very uninformative descriptor), the adaptive cruise is smart, and you found the infotainment system confusing and hard to learn.

    That leaves out 90% of what I want to learn from a car review.

    How good is the automatic transmission? What makes the handling “good?” How are the interior materials? Is the ride floaty, well-controlled, or harsh? Is the structure stiff? Are there squeaks and rattles? How does the engine respond at low/medium/high revs? What other toys does the car have or not have? How are the factory tires (which, in fairness, I guess you didn’t ever see)? Are the seats comfortable? Is there enough room in the front and back seats? Is the trunk large and/or usefully shaped? How well does the climate control work? And on and on and on…

    Read Alex’s reviews, come back, and try again.

    • 0 avatar
      tbone33

      Amen. Things I learned from this review:

      1. The car handles well. How specifically? We never learn.
      2. There is a long learning curve on the infotainment equipment. Are there real system flaws? Does the system work well otherwise?
      3. The MPG’s are bad. OK, but what were the driving conditions? Short trips or long trips? A Skyactiv 3 review on this site determine that Skyactiv cars get middling fuel economy when they never get up to operating temperature in the cold and spend most of their time in burn-rich-until-warm-enough mode.
      4. Your wife thought this was a compact car and priced it accordingly.

  • avatar
    daviel

    Infotainment? Sounds like you never read the manual. Nice looking car; Optima looks better.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Did you check fuel economy at the pump and compare it to the computer?

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      I was going to ask the same thing. The system in my Focus is commonly off by about 3-4 mpg. It’s no big deal because I check myself everytime I fuel up and always include that buffer in my rolling average as I’m driving along. Once it read 32, but I returned closer to 37.

      On an unrelated note, I saw a new Mazda3 in person the other day and thought it was a very sharp looking car. As for the Mazda6′s looks, I’d personally place it tops. My order is Mazda6, Fusion, Optima.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      My current ride is the most accurate when compared to the pump that I’ve ever owned, within .25mile/gal each tank. It even has charts for your last 10 fill-ups stored, so you can see how you’re doing.

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      Big question, really. In my experience, the 6 is at least as economical as other four-banger mid-sizers like the Camry and Accord, and noticeably more so in traffic thanks to iStop.

      I think it’s a bit disnigenuous to complain about its inability to hit 40 mpg in such obviously cold conditions (given the photo location).

  • avatar
    3800FAN

    The problem with the mazda6, here it goes.
    1: Fugly. That ugly nose, overboosted fenders, sorry but a midsize designed to appeal to teens isn’t gonna sell well.
    2: Interior volume. You can yell SKYACTIV all day but the 6 still weighs more and has less interior volume than the camry. If it wasn’t for the camry’s video game steering I’d take the camry.
    3: That takes us to the 3rd issue, the new mazda3. The two cars are so close in interior volume and exterior size (this is because they’re the same platform) there’s really no point of getting the 6 now. Why buy the 6 when a slightly smaller 6 can be had for thousands less?

    Mazdas hope was the crowd that loved the 3 would upgrade to the 6 but with the new 3 being bigger than the outgoing model and almost as big as the 6 there’s little reason to do that now. 3 buyers will buy another 3 or upgrade to an accord if they need a bigger car.

    Sad conclusion of the 6. We all want to love it. We all want it to succeed but in the end it’s ugly, the small interior looks and IS dated in terms of style and tech, and it’s being cannibalized by it’s showroom sibling. It’s going to be a sad ending for the 6….

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      So basically Mazda is doing what Acura has been doing lately, with the TL/TSX and RLX.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      What are you talking about. The interior volume is 100cu ft which is class competitive. The 3 is smaller at 95 cu ft. I am 6’1″ and I could easily sit behind myself. Others have said something similar in earlier comments.
      How is it dated in tech? i-Eloop (oddly named) is unique with the capacitor based energy saving system, the adapative cruise control is hardly old. Other than the small screen infotainment system which will be updated in due course this car is fully class competitive.

      It is fine to not like it but to make up facts to support you gut reaction is not right.

      • 0 avatar
        3800FAN

        95 cuft is big for a compact. Just wait till you see them in person. First time I saw the 3 hatchback I asked myself “Is there a 6 hatchback again?”. The two are too close in size to not compete with each other.

        As for old tec, infotainment. Plus the screens tiny and is placed too far forward and up high in the dash. The interior is too conservative while the exterior tires to be too flashy…like it was made by 2 design teams that were not talking to each other.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          Interior volume by cubic feet has almost no relationship with passenger comfort. It’s a tool the EPA uses to classify cars.

          Everything I have read about the 3 says the backseat is cramped, and 6′ passengers forced to sit back there will not be happy with you. The 6 might not be Accord/Passat spacious, but the backseat can accommodate tall adults.

          The 6 is also about a foot longer and 2.5″ wider than the 3, so I don’t know why you think the 3 is so close in size.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            I’ll be one of those who can say how the back seats compare–

            The 6 is far more comfortable and roomy in the back than the 3. Sitting back there leaves absolutely no question which is the larger car.

          • 0 avatar
            mike978

            At my local auto show 3 weeks ago I saw both Mazda 3 versions and the 6 – I never mistook the hatchback 3 for a 6 hatchback. The 6 is much more spacious, as it should be.
            The 3 sedan tries to look like the 6 but the shorter car doesn`t carry the design as well in my opinion.

          • 0 avatar
            phreshone

            I sat in both of them at the Dallas Auto Show last week. The 6 might have been the best packaged back seat. At 6′-3″ i could get into the 3 rear seat, but the 6 is packaged so well that it is comfortable beyond its numbers… The 6 trunk is much larger than the 3 hatch or trunk… The highest level 3 interior is nicer however.

          • 0 avatar
            18726543

            The 6 trunk is both wide and very deep, but the styling creates a rather small opening. If you’re loading roller-bags for your vacation you could easily fit a family’s worth of luggage. If you’re looking to stow less luggage-shaped items, however, you may face a challenge.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      As a 2nd gen 3 owner, I can speak to this. The 3 sacrifices rear passenger room and trunk length. You cannot fit 2 large suitcases in the 3′s trunk unless you have the hatch and stack them or flip a rear seat. At the same time, I can’t sit behing myself at 5’9″ without having my knees very nearly in my own back, where I am much more comfortable in the back seat of the 6.

      I checked out the new one at the Baltimore Auto show, and not much has changed in that regard. While it may not be to most, I definitely think the price jump to the 6 is worth it, and intend on trading in the wife’s 3 for one eventually.

      • 0 avatar
        3800FAN

        Yea eventually….sure just like all the people online screaming for the brz/frs then never buying one. I bet you want the diesel 6 wagon too…

        • 0 avatar
          duffman13

          Truth be told I did want a FR-S. Then I bought an S2000 because I was tired of waiting.

          The 6 doesn’t strike me as the kind of car people line up and scream about to buy. We have a stable of 3 cars at my house – the aforementioned sports car, my wife’s 3, and the beater Rodeo.

          When we have kids, She’ll definitely be getting some form of cute-ute and the 3 becomes my DD, in which case I may elect to trade it in for a used ’14 6. It depends on what our cashflow situation looks like at the time.

          And if I wanted a diesel wagon, I’d just go buy a used Jetta version right now.

    • 0 avatar
      Zoom

      “2: Interior volume. You can yell SKYACTIV all day but the 6 still weighs more and has less interior volume than the camry.”

      Mazda6: 3,232 lbs.
      Camry: 3,215 or 3,275 lbs.

    • 0 avatar

      3800FAN

      I’m one that did just that, after 7 years with 2 Mazda 3, 2006 and 2011, I was looking for a bigger car, not that I need a bigger car, I just wanted a less noisy and more comfortable car.
      Obviously, I test drove the new 6, it was OK but I could not stand the noise! way too much so I started looking elsewhere, not to many choices out there, Altima, very bad CVT, Camry SE, was nice and almost leased it, that was until I took a test drive on the Accord Sport CVT, it drives great, very quiet and very big inside, I live in NYC, I can drive this car all day and the needle never go beyond 1800 RPM, simply amazing, 1600 RPM at 60 MPH, you can also have some fun driving in S mode playing with the paddle shifters on the wheel, and…the engine sound much better than the Altima and Camry.

  • avatar
    readallover

    Verrrrry clever, Alex. Post a lousy review under a pen name and everybody will demand your return.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I have so many thoughts after reading this. I really liked your writing style on this review, and felt it was well done. Though, I’d of like some more coverage of the interior aspects you liked or didn’t. Seat comfort, materials, noise, build quality, etc.

    -The styling to me, from the sides and rear, is very close to the new Lexus ES.

    -The panel gap at the rear between fender and bumper looks too big, especially for a brand new car. Very noticeable.

    -Anyone else note the trend to go with a “solid” badge in the front (and sometimes in rear) rather than one with cut-outs? Why is this?

    -Why is the screen inset so far into the binnacle, when there are still knobs and buttons on it? I thought the point of the inset screen was that it was -normally- a touch style, so you didn’t have to reach so far to get to it. The screen is also too small for this class, that’s an economy car sized screen.

    -$32k is loaded Accord money, son! I think many customers view Mazda in a weird space between Toyota/Honda, and above Mitsubishi/Suzuki(RIP).

    -Wonder how many people would give up active shuttering and some engine stuffs for nicer interior bits.

    • 0 avatar
      This Is Dawg

      -Agreed on the ES similarities when parked side by side, but the 6 butt looks lower and wider to me at a distance.
      -I haven’t noticed my panel gaps. Huh.
      -There is a surprising amount of wind noise off the A-pillars, but I blare music anytime I drive so I don’t mind.
      -I read something about the solid badge housing some radar or sensor on the upper trim models. My i sport has a badge with spaces in it. Although I looked at the upper trim ones and there’s a big radar sensor at the top of the windshield too. Weird.
      -Having a lower trim, I don’t have NAV so I’m not sure what else there is to do on the touchscreen, but aside from thumbs up and down-ing Pandora I never touch the actual screen. Which, now that I think of it, makes me wish it was just a different material that had less washout in direct sun…
      -My friends that drive pickups and a last-gen altima have all said they’re impressed by the interior. I know two guys with upper trim ones and they’re less happy with the car, but interior materials didn’t seem to be the complaint. They dislike the lack of power (granted this is when the car is full of my 230+ pound friends).

      After 9 months, my biggest complaints are:

      -at 6’4″ the door armrest isn’t long enough and hurts my arm. I stopped noticing that after 3ish months though. The seat also hurt my back and I couldn’t figure out why, but the lumbar support fixed that when I adjusted it.

      -low end power is pretty weak, and requires you to really push the pedal in. The brake pedal also takes a lot of mashing. It’s not terribly confidence-inspiring.

      -I’m pretty sure it’s my new phone (LG G2), since my Galaxy SII never had these issues, but bluetooth loses signal at least once a day. Which is infuriating since I had gotten used to never taking the phone out of my pocket. (Probably the phone though.)

      Other than that, I love how wide the wheelbase is compared to the two old 3-series I used to drive. It invites me to take 30mph corners. The backup camera makes parking SO much easier than it should be with a butt that huge. I think the backup cam almost completely justifies the price bump from manual to auto. Lastly, though I see not everyone here agrees, I think this car is gorgeous. I’m considering painting the bottom lip black to make it look more like the CX-9, which I think has a near-perfect front end, but that’s literally my only interior or exterior appearance complaint. I know it’s stupid, but the back window’s near-horizontality really tickles me. In a good way.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks for the kind words. Honestly, the car gave me plenty to complain about, but I didn’t want the article to become a hatchet job. “Not worth $30K, good car for under $20K” was good enough for me.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        But it did come off as a hatchet job since you complained about fuel economy when real world data and instrumented tests show it is class leading/at the top tier of the mid-size market.
        Also complaining that although it looks great it is FWD like a minivan. Really!

  • avatar
    xtoyota

    My impression on car reviewer is baloney ……
    I can test drive myself and make a decision if a car meets my concerns.
    Half the cars I have purchased reviewers didn’t like…. Their concerns
    I didn’t find valid………..
    Thank you I’ll trust myself

  • avatar
    robc123

    Why don’t the manufacturers just BYOD? have a hole in the dash for what ever you want to bring> ipad, iphone, android tablet/phone. Cheap make 50 plastic templates for all the popular devices, do it at the dealer. download the mazda app and away you go.

    Eliminates this expense and stupidity of thousands of knobs and whatnot- BT controlled via the steering wheel. done, solved, next.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Because profits

    • 0 avatar
      carrya1911

      Preaching to the choir, Robc. Let my phone do music, NAV, and video in the car. Maybe include a radio tuner in it standard, but otherwise lean heavily on my phone. Spend that R&D money on making the car more powerful or handle better or more reliable and durable over the long term.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I like integrated Nav because of 8″ moving maps. Maps are cool.

      • 0 avatar
        robc123

        plus its ugly to have all these knobs and crummy low res screens and buttons. They could just have a delete type option- faceplate only $500. or buy a new KIA get an Iphone/ipad promo, all sorts of tie ins.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Preach it.

          I am so tired of the idiotic game of not being able to upgrade to an actual stereo system and quality speakers that sounds at least very good without being forced into some frickin’ $2,500+ “package” that includes a bunch of crap I don’t want at all!

          The last thing I want to do is spend 100 hours study schematics of audio wiring and head unit interchangeability, assuming it’s even possible (which it is increasingly not so), via Crutchfield materials’ too, only to have to find out that beginning what is a major endeavor, ends in agony halfway through the job, when the aftermarket components screw something else up in the car.

          It’s total B.S.

          A universal adapter allowing one to switch out the head unit couple allow an aftermarket stereo and speakers to be easily installed that would improve the stereo sound by a factor of 10x, while costing around $300 to $400.

  • avatar
    SixDucks

    The styling is a mess. Mercedes C class nose, Saturn rear, ’71 Javelin front fenders. Wow.

    • 0 avatar
      frozenman

      Agreed, over-wrought form over function Ala Chevy Camaro, not good for a family sedan. Get your zoom-zoom and functionality with a Honda Accord if your going Japanese?

  • avatar
    BMWnut

    Enough with the bipolar jokes. The disease is a very complex matter. Having to live with a family member who suffers from bipolar syndrome I see nothing funny about the headline. I can’t even be bothered to read the rest.

  • avatar
    suspekt

    The Accord trounces this in the styling department.

    I know in photo’s its hard to make that argument… but in the flesh, the Accord is the best looking mid-sizer. It doesn’t have a single line, cut, curve wrong on it… it is damn near perfect.

    This car is ok, maybe a 7/10.

    But the Fusion is atrocious. Just a fat blimp with some really nice touches and great from SOME angles. But taken as a whole, it is a nasty bloated pig.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      And none are a threat to Camry sales; the Mazda6 least of all.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Accord and styling? lol

      That thing has evolved at roughly the same rate as the 911.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I have to agree with this. When I see Fusion all I can think is “fat.” Taken on its own the front end looks sharp. But take any side profile and it’s a porker.

      Hyundai Sonata is easily the ugliest, most dated looking thing on the road right now. Altima is likewise full of weird melted lines, looks old and strange already.

      I don’t care much for the Camry, SE trim is the most decent looking one. LE has those nasty black triangles in the front bumper, on the XLE those become garish chrome triangles with foglights inside.

      Malibu is okay in my eyes but has a really low hanging and bulky looking front end.

      Accord is one classy unit (IMO): Simple lines, simple non-cartoonish headlights. Not trying to be “aggressive.” Not trying to be a coupe/CLS knockoff. Nice big greenhouse. I cannot find a single offensive detail, besides the way the single-exhaust looks like it’s missing something compared to the Sport and V6 dual exhausts. Some may call all of this boring, and I understand that angle. It’s a safe and practical design and it seems that consumers are voting with their wallets in favor of that. Hopefully this will signal the return to rational sightlines and fewer gun slit windows. Now give me some color options on the 6spd manual sedan, I do in fact put my money where my mouth is, I bought a Basque Red Pearl (read: maroon) stick shift 2012 Civic.

      I like the way the 6 looks, but less so than the Accord. The Accord just looks more solid and serious, not trying to be a sports car.

      • 0 avatar
        This Is Dawg

        I think the latest accord would make a convincing Acura. It just seems so much classier than any previous model. That being said, I think it’s a little unfortunate how similar the back end is to the genesis.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Seems like a serious case of “RTFM!” here. Given the lack of standardization among the operations of infotainment systems — especially operating them from the buttons on the steering wheel, I think RTFM is mandatory for anyone who is going to review the car. If you have RTFM and still find the system clumsy, unresponsive, non-intuitive, whatever, then that’s a fair criticism. But to jump in the car and expect to be able to figure out the system while you’re driving down the road is just plain unreasonable.

    Admittedly, like some of the others here, I don’t much car about the “infotainment system.” Google Maps on my IPhone is far better than any of the Garmin GPS units that I have (even the old one that was stolen out of my unlocked car). And I am fortunate enough not to have to commute 10+ miles a day creeping in bumper to bumper traffic (who, obviously have a need to be entertained under the circumstances).

    So I would have liked to know more about how the car drives. The review’s negative comments about the steering, make it an outlier among other reviews of the car. It is a FWD car; when does it start feeling that way?

    Etc.

    • 0 avatar
      PartsUnknown

      I currently own one of the unloved 2nd-gen 6′s, and I had this exact car as a service loaner last week. I had it for 24 hours and was able to work the infotainment/Nav system fairly easily without ever cracking open the manual. And I’m not especially tech-savvy. I don’t know what this reviewer is talking about really.

      I found the car a blast to drive, but would probably opt for a lower end model without all the techno-wizardry (and with a manual trans).

  • avatar
    troyohchatter

    Driving a car, on winter gas, on winter tires, and telling me you got horrible MPG doesn’t do me any good. Unless you drove the thing 30-45 minutes on your loop AFTER it was fully warmed up, the MPG test is flawed. Even at that, with the winter tires and gas, you will lose MPG regardless. I wouldn’t have even brought up the MPG unless you were willing to put in a solid 2 hours of mixed driving.

    Second, I find all so called “infotainment “systems extremely aggrevating. Give me a device mount, a phone plug, USB, or bluetooth and I’m golden. Base model 6 comes with three knob climate control and a moron proof radio. Probably my car if I was a buyer. And how can one write one story about the 6 and not bring up that gem of an automatic trans, the only trans I ever saw that banged off a downshift pre-corner. Fantastic trans.

    So, take the winter driving and infotainment out of the story, and what did I get out of the story? Umm, not much.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      “the only trans I ever saw that banged off a downshift pre-corner.”

      Funny you should say that, I was just waxing nostalgic about my 2000 Civic that did this.
      Thanks little car, but… how did you know????

  • avatar
    djsyndrome

    “The 2014 Mazda 6 is, simply, one of the best-looking cars ever built. That may sound like it’s one of those “opinion” things, but it’s not. It’s a fact,”

    Stopped reading right there. Can we put down the hyperbole for a minute and return auto writing to some sort of sane level of objectivity? Please?

  • avatar
    darex

    I came rather close to buying a 2014 Mazda3, but the more I considered it, the madder at Mazda I got.

    Their package pricing is insulting and manipulative, and for no good reason other than greed. You must get the S-trim, and more likely the S-GT trim, to get the things you want, otherwise things are stripped out, and in insulting, unacceptable ways.

    The manual-transmission, on the i-Trim of course, since you still cannot have that on the s-Trims, is simply not the jewel I was lead to believe. It’s “okay”, but not particularly precise. It’s no Miata stick. Not even close!

    As well, it simply is not as ergonomic and blissful to sit in as the other journalists would have us all believe. In the end, I just could not swallow the Kool-Aid I was being force-fed. I am glad, too.

    The Mazda6 is marginally plusher in the interior, but I’m a hatch guy, so …

    • 0 avatar
      djsyndrome

      You’re comparing an 18k economy car’s transmission to a purpose built, RWD sports car that costs 50% more – of course the transmission is going to be better in the latter. That’s like questioning why an Impreza doesn’t shift ilke a BRZ.

      As far as Mazda’s transmission as a whole go, the 5-speed in my Mazda 2 shifts great for the price; nothing else at 15k that I drove (in cases where a manual was even offered!) comes close except for the Fit.

      w/r/t options pricing: manufacturing is cheaper when you have a smaller number of option combinations. The old Detroit model of ‘any way you want it’ is unsustainable for volume cars. But I agree that the 3′s packages suck, and not having the i SV price-leader on the hatch is just plain weird.

      • 0 avatar
        darex

        I’ll grant you your point, but I had read that the 3′s shifter was 1. Based on the Miata’s. 2. Mazda makes THE BEST manual transmissions. 3. The 2014 3′s was brilliant. I didn’t find it to be particularly special or precise. That was my point. It’s competent, but no better than other good ones I’ve tried. That was a let-down when I tested it, which I did three times.

    • 0 avatar
      Wraith

      One thing that bugs me about the 6′s trim levels is that 19″ wheels are standard on anything but the base Sport trim. Maybe that’s what some people want, but I don’t need the harsher ride and more expensive tire cost. And don’t really want the hassle of buying new wheels & tires (and selling the “old” 19s) for a brand new car.

      At least with the CX-5, you’re not stuck with 19s until you get to the highest trim.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Unfortunately, big wheels are like fancy infotainment systems–people see shiny and want shiny. It’s a case of selling what the customer will buy (and pay more for), not what the customer really needs.

        • 0 avatar
          This Is Dawg

          Someone made a good point last time this came up, that if you tell the salesman you want an upper trim level but won’t pull the trigger unless they swap the wheels for smaller ones, they’ll probably just do it.

          Granted, I’ve only bought one car ever so I don’t know how feasible that is on the dealer side of the equation.

  • avatar

    Aston Martin would build something like this? Find it hard to believe. Though it does seem most are ennamored with this car looks, to my eyes there’s nothing really there. Ugly, way too-out-sticking lights, very common grill, some mindless creases that really add little. Mazdas may be good to drive and all, but they don’t really have “all that” in terms of style.

    • 0 avatar
      Aquineas

      Maybe Mazda and Aston Martin use the same bargain-basement plastic supplier?

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Aston and Mazda were both finalists in the design category of the 2013 World Car award. Both against the Jaguar F type. So obviously many people thought it was good looking.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Car_of_the_Year

    • 0 avatar

      > Aston Martin would build something like this? Find it hard to believe.

      Aston Martin has a very conservative design aesthetic, it’s basically been the same car forever a la 911 or the old bmw. The people who like that look are going to like til the end of time. Nothing lost, nothing gained.

      Mazda is more adventurous and the results are usually good; contrast w/ Bangle stick. They style in sheetmetal instead of the tradition chrome/trim/accent approach (which is why they’re still interest in neutral/light color like white), though others are catching up.

      Since aesthetic is subjective opinions differ, but objectively Mazda does quite well to most observers.

  • avatar
    jdmcomp

    My dealer put me in one as a loaner while (for the 4th time) they took care of an issue on my MX5. It was the best Buick I have ever driven; large, soft, comfortable and slow. Nothing about the car was bad, but as a car person, nothing about the car lite my fire. For someone who does not care about performance, then this is a very fine car.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    seems to me like it wouldnt be that hard to get used to the knob.

    nav- zoom
    radio- volume
    phone- phone book

    as for the up/down for presets… isnt that expected? i dont think ive ever used (or wanted to use) the scan function. i know what stations i like, and preset them.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    I have to agree with some other comments here, the review was snarky like you are trying to write like JB, with none of the actual information JB puts in his reviews. Basically, you didn’t like that the car was FWD and you couldn’t figure out the stereo. Oh and the gas mileage wasn’t as good as you hoped. No info on how the car drove, how it compares to others, why your wife didn’t like it, etc.

    We test drove the 6 Touring model, almost a base model for around $23k or so. I agree that the car isn’t worth $30k+, but at $23k it is a very nice package. My wife, who sounds like yours in that she is very good at guessing prices and establishing “value”, thought it was the best of all the mid size sedans. The Camry has the rubbermaid interior now, and the Honda is better but not quite as stylish while still costing a lot more. The 6 Touring comes with the fake leather seats but they look and feel as good as leather to me, I wouldn’t bother with an aftermarket upgrade. The base infotainment system was more than adequate, bluetooth is standard, and as a bonus you can add Nav to any model for only $495 installed, no tech package required which is nice. The Touring model comes with the nice wheels, the steering is very responsive, suspension is tight without being too firm for lousy roads, it does look amazing with those curves and long low look. The 3 is almost of proportion, the nose is too long, the rear too short, the wheels too small, you can’t get a stick with the rest of the sport options, etc.

    For $22500 credit union pricing you can get a manual 6 Touring with Nav added, it already has the (fake) leather, sport suspension and wheels, better steering than the Honda and many color choices. The Accord Sport is a couple hundred more but has no leather or nav and only comes in black and light black, doesn’t handle as crisply, and while very handsomely styled and mature looking, just doesn’t have the sexy look of the Mazda. I’d say both are winning choices depending on what is important to you, but I think I would go with the Mazda.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Can TTAC please bring back a word limit for these reviews? This was a lot of writing just to say the car is all show and no go, with confusing infotainment and disappointing gas mileage. Maybe if reviewers had to think and choose their words carefully it would clean up some of the sloppy writing as well.

  • avatar
    wmba

    OI drove an Accord Sport and Mazda6 both 6MT within an hour of each other. The dealers are directly across the street from each other.

    The Mazda has a much more even ride without the Honda hobbyhorsing. Both cars have numb steering, nothing to choose between them. There’s plenty of room in the Mazda’s back seat sorry to disabuse the armchair warriors. The feeling is much more closed in than the airy Accord, however. To me the Mazda looked more upscale inside and the driving position is better and easier to adjust. The 6MT is much better in the Accord than the Mazda, far more intuitive.

    On one huge deep manhole cover I always drive over on a test, the Mazda kranged far worse than the Accord and lost traction – it’s a steep uphill so was using high revs in 2nd gear in both cases.

    On sharp sudden 30 mile per hour dives onto secondary streets, both understeered but then again, they had brand new tires. The Honda engine feels strong but noisy, the Mazda’s wouldn’t generate a fart through a tin whistle.

    In Canada, Mazda6 trims are out to lunch. The base is $25K, plus $1200 for the auto. For the next trim up you get a sunroof and rearview camera, and a choice of manual or auto for the same price. So the manual buyer gets screwed for $1200 for NOTHING.

    The Accord is far better screwed together underhood. No contest there.

    Here’s the problem for me. Neither of these cars are anywhere near as nice as my Legacy GT. Not close. All they have is more space, less traction and actual modern infotainment systems. I was hoping for much more interesting performance, but these are modern anodyne experiences. And if you really want to buy an overhyped tin box, that is somehow at least charming as an upscale Corolla, try out the Benz CLA. It’s got zero visibility, narrow vinyl interior and hyperactive traction control on wet roads. But a pleasant demeanor.

    Loved the Accord Coupe V6 engine so much I lost sight of whether it actually handled. Probably not, Mr Baruth can relate his findings.

    Want an interesting new car, but not prepared to waste money on a FGC. Next up will be the new WRX. I’m hoping.

    This TTAC review. Useless.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      @wmba – the problem is, your car that you are comparing it to is simply too good! The Legacy GT was a great car, and even Subaru doesn’t make anything comparable to it anymore. I predict you will be just as disappointed by the WRX too, although you will get traction in that.

      But it really isn’t fair to expect a mainstream FWD sedan to have better (or even equal) traction to an AWD Subaru, or feel powerful compared to a turbo Subaru that was essentially designed as a more comfortable STI. Plus, I believe the Legacy GT was over $30k. I am willing to bet your Subaru can’t come close to the same gas mileage as either the Mazda or the Honda.

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        @mmm4ever, thanks for your take.

        Of course the Legacy GT gets worse mileage, that’s a given. I paid Cdn $35K for it, but typical prices in the US were in the $29K range. What I was hoping was that car design had advanced enough in the last six years that you could get something nice for a similar price.

        I left out my impressions of the Cadillac ATS, BMWX1, 328i, Volvo S60. Cannot bring myself to visit Infiniti, there’s no Infiniti I like, and I much prefer my car to my brother’s G37.

        If you discount Hyundai Kia, and I do having driven an Elantra GT and an Optima turbo, and dismiss the entire Subaru line as wobblers, there’s nothing left. That’s my quandary.

        The new Acura TL will be overpriced as usual here, over $50K for an AWD one.

        Frankly, except for that Accord V6, the only car that appealed to me was the Abarth. It seemed like the only car with some spirit. But for year round use, no.

        Who knew I bought a really good driving car 6 years ago? I wanted a 335i like my friend’s, which was in a different league altogether, but not for an additional $21K. And the BMW has been a riotously poor car repairwise. I’m just disappointed that new cars seem generally worse from the fun to drive poinr of view. They’re isolated and anodyne.

        But at least I’m not driving around in a penalty box while I look! And I get to see how bad most roadtests are, enough for me to slap myself in disbelief when I sample the vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Thank you wmba. Your review provided WAY more of the information I care about than this thing Mr. Borras wrote.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I’ll have mine on track in a month or so, as the weather clears.

      I suspect, given what I’ve seen on the street, that the relative limits are high but the behavior around those limits won’t exactly thrill.

      On the other hand, this engine feels decidedly stronger than the 3.7V6/auto combos I drove for the R&T sedan test. Like 335i strong.

    • 0 avatar
      jettaGL

      Thanks for this well constructed comparison of top dog vs. underdog.

  • avatar
    zach

    That is one pretty sexy sedan.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    …Worse than the fuel economy letdown, however, was the Mazda’s infotainment system. It is, without question, the worst part of this, or any other car I have ever driven. Keep in mind, that list includes a Renault 5 (LeCar) that required me to, more than once, spray the fusebox with a fire extinguisher while driving…

    And here is how Ford can be at the bottom of the quality pile according to CR with their infotainment issues.

    I’m not condoning this as a non-problem (I wanted to drive a Ford Edge into a brick wall back in 2011 My FordTouch was so awful in it) but I still question if this is a real “quality” problem versus a useability issue.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Also, this might just be, the most unflattering picture of the Mazda6 I’ve ever seen, in an equally unflattering color. The front clip looks like a Glastron Bowrider to me.

  • avatar
    18726543

    Last weekend I took my mom car shopping. She’s late 50′s, 2-time owner of new Volvos since ’98 but turned off by the China ownership, in the market for a $30k midsized sedan with leather, heated seats, nav, auto trans of any variety, and 25+mpg combined fuel economy because that’s what she’s used to with her current ’05 S60. Also, she’s been a firm believer that a car is an a-to-b appliance since I’ve known her…31 years.

    I took her to see Accord, Sonata, Regal, Mazda6, Camry, and Altima. Altima’s color pallet was so bad we didn’t get to the test drive. Camry’s driver seat felt just like my dad’s new Prius V to her and she hates the firmness of their “leather” and the way she sits “on” the seat instead of “In” the seat (again, used to Volvo). Regal felt very small inside to her and she felt the rear-word visibility was too challenging. She was very happy with the way both Sonata and Accord felt, drove, and looked (though she found Accord to be both ubiquitous and slightly drab), and stated between the two it would come down to incentives.

    The clear winner of the day was the Mazda6. She was truly impressed by the sporting feel, she flogged it through the test drive like an indy driver, and loved the feel of the driver’s seat and cockpit in general (she’s 5’1″ and this can be a difficulty). Over-all, she came away from the drive with a giant smile, and I’ve never known my mom to truly enjoy driving a car! Who are they selling this car to? Well, I found one person. She’s going back to buy one this Saturday, GT trim, almond interior, Reflector blue exterior (as pictured).

    One thing I did suggest after some research was to drive a base model with the 17″ rims and see if it retained the sporting feel she enjoyed with the 19′s. If the sporting feel is still there, request a swap for 17′s on her GT trim because the 19″ tires are about 75 bucks more expensive and will probably only last 1/2 to 2/3rds as long.

    When I laid out the cars we’d be visiting that morning my mom said “Mazda…that’s a Japanese company right?”. 6 hours later they all but had a buyer locked in based solely on look and driving experience!

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Sounds like a nice color combo!

      • 0 avatar
        18726543

        It’s very nice! The blue in the picture looks more blue if you see it in person. The photo makes it look more silvery than it actually is.

        Also, people can say they want about the cheapness of Mazda’s interiors, but the leather packages are quite attractive! If you get black leather the seats come with red contrast stitching, and if you get the almond interior the seats come with black contrast stitching. I think it’s a very nice touch!

  • avatar
    mkirk

    Given that the average age of a car on the road keeps climbing and these infotainment systems don’t seem to age well I am glad my Frontier has a standard double din opening. When the next big thing hits or my current Kenwood won’t talk to my phone anymore I’ll just replace it. I am waiting for the airplay enabled receivers to drop.

  • avatar

    Hey Mike! I don’t particularly like that Jaguar either, so….
    Ain’t saying it’s terrible, but I just don’t really see it.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I don’t understand why so many of you are pissing and moaning that you don’t care about infotainment. Perhaps more of the article should have been devoted to other things, but a lot of us do care about infotainment and in a time when you can no longer just swap out the factory head-unit for a double-DIN aftermarket one, it’s kind of important for a lot of us to know how usable these systems are. Besides, infotainment doesn’t just refer to units that have fancy touch-screens/dials and navigation. It can refer to a basic radio with just a matrix display and some buttons, and presumably you’d want to know if that was any good or not, wouldn’t you?

    Now, because I am a young person who likes a lot of bells and whistles, I sampled the CX-5/6 infotainment system and, let me tell you: t’s pretty much the worst in the class, like Mazda wasn’t even trying. I hope that Mazda soon gets around to fitting the new system from the 3 to the rest of its cars…

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      Yeah it’s kind of hypocritical. They don’t give a hoot about the radio. They can do nav on their phone. they only listen to NPR. Ok fine, but you can’t have all the other whiz-bang crap without getting that ridiculously expensive, non-upgradeable radio. You can “not care” about the infotainment, but you can’t get the higher spec trim without it, and it adds 4 figures to what you pay for the car.

      I listen critically to the stereo of any car I test drive. I bring my ipod and a cable, and there are certain parts of certain songs I listen to for details. If the stereo sucks and cannot be upgraded, I’m not getting that car. I made that mistake with the 2006 TSX, only to find out that the HVAC is integrated into the radio unit. NEVER AGAIN.

      At least Scion does that part right. Throw a Pioneer double-DIN in the dash and call it a day; if the buyer doesn’t want it, he can call Crutchfield.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Subaru and most Volkswagens also appear to have modular head-units. I don’t know if they’re necessarily double-DIN, but they certainly aren’t integrated into the dashboards like every other newer car.

  • avatar

    Most car reviews are flawed because they don’t perceive the vehicle from the POV of the prospective audience. For example Mazda with their zoom-zoom byline specifically targets the mainstream market with a driver’s bias, yet this review doesn’t speak much to how the car drives much less handles. Can’t figure out the buttons without thinking through it to see if there’s a pattern? are you trying to embarrass yourself?

    The same would be true to bash an SUV/minivan for poor handling, or a cheap fleet car for anything but basic functionality. It’s part of every writer’s job to embellish through prose, but this is basic meat-n-taters info. Otherwise, wtf are you even doing? Rant and raving to friends that it looks hot but the nav is soooo confusing?

  • avatar

    Also, an slightly technical description of how the i-eloop energy “ultracapacitor” works from the SAE:

    http://articles.sae.org/11845/

  • avatar
    Tinker

    My grand daughter was unable to operate the sound system in my 2011 Mazda CX7, she borrows it frequently, and she just switches it off now. I can’t say I understand how it works but in her attempts at using it she reset every preset on FM (12 total) just trying to get it to do country music instead of NPR. None of the buttons do what you expect. I would have bet she was up to tuning it manually, as I don’t HAVE a country station preset. (I don’t go in for weeping about drinking lots of beer, or crying in same.)

    So it’s not a fluke, they do it on purpose. She might have turned it over to my great grandson however as he loves to press buttons.

    Oh, BTW, the owners manual alone is like a trip through hell, as endless as Dante’s Purgatorio, a hefty paper back book. Not quite as bad as Russian Novels, you understand.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    For 33k, I would shop it against an Audi and it would fail. For $18k, maybe it would work but I would be shopping it against a Focus.

  • avatar
    jettaGL

    My take on 6′s achievements and short comings are as follows. Mazda dumped a lot of their capital into efficiency tech that would be distributed throughout their entire lineup and spent the rest of the 6 development funds on driving dynamics and styling. I bet infotainment was very low on priority list and probably there was little funds left.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    I’ve never been too impressed by Mazda in general and have never drank their Kool-aid. All of their cars come off as a pretty cheap, especially with the newcomers from the Big-3 lately, and they all seem overpriced for what they are.

    I use to think a Miata would be a cool car to own, then I drove one…… that put an end to that.

    • 0 avatar

      > I’ve never been too impressed by Mazda in general and have never drank their Kool-aid. I use to think a Miata would be a cool car to own, then I drove one…… that put an end to that.

      That’s pretty ironic coming from someone named AMC CJ.

  • avatar
    JD321

    Why would anyone pay that price for this chintzy goof mobile when they can get a 2 year old off-lease Mercedes E-Class? Or a 2 year old C-Class Sport is an excellent ride. Even the Accord Touring is a far better ride than this.

  • avatar
    rox1

    So glad you wrote this review of the new Mazda 6. My family has – combined – owned more Mazdas than any other brand. But, I have to agree with your wife: there’s something fundamentally cheap about Mazdas compared to Toyotas and Hondas.

    I live in a climate with a lot of winter road salt, and Mazdas rot out much earlier than either Hondas or Toyotas (not purposely avoiding other brands, but focusing on the obvious leading competition). The sheet metal also tends to be much thinner and tinnier.

    But – by far – the least appealing aspect of the new Mazda 6 to me is the ugly, retro dashboard and steering wheel combination. It makes the Camry’s dashboard look jeweled by comparison.

    I thought it was ironic that you used the Corolla as a yardstick of comparison because, as you wrote, Toyota is the default whipping brand for the auto press (I sometimes wonder whether car writers actually even drive Toyotas given the laughably canned comments about each new release of a new Toyota product).

    Again, thanks for this. It once again confirms my suspicions about the “genius” of any new Mazda.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      I spent an entire weekend with a 2014.5 Camry SE 2.5 rental and much of what is said about Toyota’s slide downhill is true. I would even say I would rather have this Mazda 6 but in a cheaper trim level if I was forced to choose between the two.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Sorry but a car that get’s 10 less MPG than it’s rating, a cheap smaller car like interior that is confused for a compact in the 18k range, a terrible infotainment system, power that is still less than a good running 90′s 3800 mid size GM product and a price tag over 32k! Sorry but I’m not feeling it. The Fusion FWD Platinum with 2.0 liter turbo offers so much better performance, equally good if not better styling, a better interior and darn good driving dynamics would attract my attention far more.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      It is a Fusion Titanium and that combination would be way more than $32K – with lower reliability (confirmed by both CR and truedelta).

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I liked the Fusion…until I got to the rear-end, which to me is the worst execution in its class. It’s tall, boxy, overwrought, and the tail-lamps look like alien-eyes.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I am totally bummed I missed this article when it came out since I am the only one on this site who actually owns a 2014 mazda 6. I have had it about 1.5 months and am totally in love. I have a silver touring 6mt. I came out of a 2011 maxima lease and though I dropped over 100 horses in the transition, I am enjoying the mazda considerably more than the nissan and I owned a 2006 mazdaspeed6 prior to that. Since nobody is probably going to read this several days after it was posted. I’ll just say “nuts” to the author and my cars detractors. The touring and the 6mt are the sweet spots for this car and at a sweet price. Mine was 23k. Let’s not forget that this is an every man’s car. It’s not perfect, but from an equipment standpoint, a design standpoint, a driving enjoyment standpoint…..it delivers. It may not make its most component competitors look like absolute turds, but it is a welcome alternative to the vanilla mainstays in the segment and I will leave with this. As a whole, it delivers just enough more than its competitors to leave me with a smile on my face as I row my own gears past the camfusalticords on the road…..because I and my fellow owners know something they dont…..we have achieved “total consciousness” among the owners of fwd 4 cylinder family sedans ;) Try not to blinded by our aura.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I know how you feel!!! I take a lot of hits for choosing to drive a Tundra 5.7. But in spite of the detractors, I love my truck! It’s the best truck I have ever owned!!!

      So don’t be bummed. Know that you made the right choice for yourself. You only have to please yourself.

      What works for you may not work for everyone else.

  • avatar

    When I was shopping for my new ride I tested both Fusion Titanium and Mazda 6GT. Then I decided to do a side by side comparison. Mazda and Ford dealerships were located across the street so it was an easy thing to do. I agree with thw author that Mazda handles well but Fusion is even better – it has a heavier feel (in German sense) and better steering and Mazda is more light but has some inherit Japanese quality (means feels cheap). Regarding appearance – I like Fusion a lot even though it might be lower and wider so to speak. Mazda is less organic design – kind of mixture of style ques that are no compatible with each other – they should ask European designer to design the car like Kia/Hyudai, Japanese are simply not good at it. Interior wise there is no comparison – Fusion feels high tech while Mazda has kind of dated yesterdays design.

    In general Titanium looked and felt more like a luxury car compared with 6GT including handling and engine. Mazda 6 engine is noisy, harsh and cheap sounding esp when you accelerate but very noticeable when you start engine. Ecoboost is quiet and smooth sounds almost like V6 and when turbo kicks in it goes really fast. Mazda engine is an ordinary engine which can be found in any economy car, like e.g. prev model Focus (which had Mazda 2.3L).

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      ” Mazda engine is an ordinary engine which can be found in any economy car, like e.g. prev model Focus (which had Mazda 2.3L).”
      The ecoboost engines in the Fusion can be found in the Focus (1.5 and 2.0) – your point?

      Regarding styling the Ford is in my opinion attractive at the front but the slides are pretty slab sided and not consistent with the front or back (the two best angles). The 6 has a consistency of design (as does the Accord) from front to sides to back.

      The Titanium is more expensive than the GT and you can get the good stuff you want from the 6 for around $23K as a previous poster mentioned. Your Titanium doesn`t start until around $28K.

      • 0 avatar

        I am talking about refinement. Mazda engines are more appropriate in mainstream cheap cars and Ecoboost is better suited for Premium or luxury cars. Most people settle for cheap and reliable cars and some for premium and more technologically complex premium cars, that’s all. I was looking for premium car.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Its funny how different people can have completely different perceptions about vehicles. When I looked at the Fusion and the Mazda6 (and the Accord), I compared the models of equal price, which for Ford meant a dark grey Fusion SE with the 1.6T and the impossible to find manual transmission. And it was a nice car, but by no means did it scream “Premium”. It was fine for me, this one had the black wheels which I happen to love. But the styling was, as others pointed out, slab sided and heavy looking compared to the much sexier Mazda and much more proportional Honda. Its very clear from your post that you don’t like Japanese cars and you value the “feel” of German cars (not sure how Ford got in the mix but whatever). I much preferred either Japanese car to the Fusion, they felt lighter, more sportscar-like than the Ford, which just felt like a smaller Taurus. I don’t consider tiny turbocharged engines to feel “premium” either, but I will admit that none of the cars had a premium engine feel. But they all got pretty good mileage. I am less trusting of turbos over the long haul and with real world mileage, so I feel the NA engines will be the better real world choice.

      Given that you purchased a Fusion it isn’t surprising that you preferred it. But the reasons you gave seem to indicate that you went into your own “comparison test” with the winner already chosen. Kind of like the big mags do. :)

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t know anything about Taurus, but Fusion I was testing was Titanium – it has 2.0L turbo similar to Audi A4 – no small engine by any means. Titanium has also premium seats, wheels, pedals and etc – you cannot compare it with SE. It is a luxury version of Fusion. Europeans prefer European cars, Americans – Asian cars – tastes are different. If Mazda 6 was compared to Corolla it says something. yes, I felt car with 2.5L I4 and cheap interior and busy looks does not worth over 30 grands. Audi is also heavy car, also not “sexy”, it does not mean Accord or Mazda are better cars.

        • 0 avatar
          mnm4ever

          Right I know what the Titanium is, but its in a totally different price class by the time you option it up. It’s the same car underneath, just has a lot of toys installed. I don’t even think the seats are different, it just has leather standard. But it does have a much better engine in that model, much more powerful. It’s still just a 2.0 though. Its funny when you say the Mazda is busy compared to the Titanium though, as that car with all the extra chrome looks a bit tacky IMO. I guess if you WANT a luxury car, then the Mazda (or Honda) isn’t the way to go anyway. But I hate luxury cars, I want something sporty. You can’t get a stick in a Titanium.

          Another thing is the resale value… the best Fusion to buy is the used ones, the CPO Fusions lose $10k+ after a few months and a few thousand miles. Honda and Mazda are much better on resale value.

          • 0 avatar

            From your words it looks like you don’t know much about Titanium trim and just make general assumptions. Seats are different, engine is not 2.0L it is a 2.0L Turbo – big difference if you know what turbo means, electric steering is tighter (than Mazda), suspension is tighter, infotainment is significantly better. I was actually looking for premium car, I considered Audi, Acura, CTS, Regal, Sonata (top trim of course). Mazda simply was unortodox choice. I am not one who can seriously consider Accord, Camry or Altima – it is for masses. I had Toyota and it was underwhelming to say the least.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Not to pick nits too much but every one of the cars you named is meant for the masses and shares its platform with or is re-badged from from a more plebeian offering save CTS which is a Cadillac exclusive platform. If you’d like to really snob it up in a car its Jaguar, some BMW models, some Lexus models, and supercars like Ferrari.

          • 0 avatar

            OMG, I WANTED premium car and Mazda is not. What else you want me to do – to sell Fusion and buy Camry?

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            I KNOW its a 2.0T, I was speaking as opposed to the 1.6T that comes on the SE I drove. I get it, and I still say that a small 4-cyl turbo engine doesn’t feel “premium” to me. And it sounds like don’t know much about your car, not me. The seats are the SAME seats, they are optional on the SE and standard on the Ti. Same with the suspension and steering, that comes with the 1.6T and optional wheels, which are the SAME SIZE as on the Ti, unless you got the optional 19″ rims that are not available on the SE. The transmission might be different on the Ti, I wouldn’t know because I wouldn’t want one with an automatic anyway. I would get the manual which only comes on the SE, because I don’t want a “luxury” car, I want a driver’s car. Same thing as the infotainment, I couldn’t care less, and the Technology Package is available on the SE as well, its just standard on the Ti. So your car is, with the exception of the 2.0T engine, the same as the SE with all of the options added.

            And really, I am glad you love your Fusion so much, its a really great car, which is probably why it is one of the most popular cars with rental fleets. And I even agree with your main point, the Fusion Ti does feel more like a luxury car than the Mazda, and yes, the Toyota and the Honda too. But when choosing a “drivers car”, for sporty feel, I think the Mazda or Honda is a better choice. I also feel that you get more value with the Mazda over the competition. I do agree with you that the Camry was the least appealing choice, however it is also least expensive option as well, which is important in the marketplace.

            I am just saying that the Mazda happens to fit MY preferences more than it fit yours, and I can respect that, which is why its great that we have choices. But you started your post saying that the “inherit Japanese quality (means feels cheap)”, so its pretty obvious that you simply dislike Japanese cars and wanted something else. Not a very openminded viewpoint so its hard to take any of your opinions on the car seriously.

    • 0 avatar
      This Is Dawg

      “Mazda 6 engine is noisy, harsh and cheap sounding esp when you accelerate but very noticeable when you start engine.”

      It says in the manual and even has a dashboard light explaining that when the car is started from cold, it automatically revs it to heat up the engine faster. It does sound weird but the second you put it in gear it’s almost inaudible again. So good job.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    The exterior is design only, not because of a moved firewall for the 4-2-1 exhaust. I popped the hood at the autoshow and saw how low the manifold is as it exits rearward. It does extend further than my twin scroll turbocharged Ecotec 2.0T but the turbo is right off the head, very high up.

    http://m.automobilemag.com/features/news/techtonics-what-is-skyactiv-138895/photo_02.html

    Look to Lexus RWD, with a larger than Skyactiv, transmission bell housing for a short windshield to front bumper ratio.

  • avatar
    CRConrad

    About the media ergonomics — Down behind the shifter the order of the buttons is:
    Audio . . . Phone
    Nav . . . . Setup

    While up on the center console it goes:
    Audio . . . Setup
    Phone . . . Seek >>
    Nav . . . . Seek <<

    Congratulations to everyone who learns one of these patterns by muscle memory… You'll get it right in one place, *and precisely therefore*, wrong in the other. Bravo, Mazda!

  • avatar
    CRConrad

    I was prepared to love this car, until I read this:

    “…Mazda’s i-ELOOP energy recovery system…”

    Sorry; living in Finland as I do, I can’t possibly tolerate anything that sounds so much like “Elop”.

  • avatar
    Vettelife88

    My wife picked up the 14 Mazda6 GT, and it may very well be the best car she’s ever owned.
    This was bought prior to the I-Eloop’s intro to our market, but she is getting 30 city, 42 hwy.
    Biggest complaint is the computer. It is vague, ie., if you have a low tire psi, the comp does not indicate which tire is low.
    27k. great value.


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